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Thousands of acoustic ears to be fitted to Sheffield’s leakiest water pipes

Yorkshire’s leakiest pipes – including some in Sheffield city centre - are to be fitted with thousands of specialist ‘acoustic ears’ to enable Yorkshire Water to listen and quickly respond to potential problems on its underground water pipe network.

Up to 15,000 acoustic loggers will be attached to fittings on water pipes throughout Yorkshire that will be capable of listening to the flow of water in a pipe. The noise and flow pattern of this water will then allow expert technicians to understand the sound of water to help reduce the risk of bursts or leaks caused by high pressure.

The high-tech devices work by sending leak alerts and ‘noise data’ via GPRS to teams in Yorkshire Water’s 24-hour central control room in Bradford. This data is then analysed to help identify underground leaks and send a response unit out to quickly to repair it, helping to potentially save millions of litres of water.

Dave Stevenson, head of water distribution at Yorkshire Water, said: “Detecting a potential leak on a water pipe is not an easy thing to do but the technology that we’ll be deploying onto the mains network will enable us get to problems on our pipes faster, preventing bigger bursts and helping us reduce the amount of water that is lost through leaks.

“The technology is capable of identifying a leak within a 150 meters radius, which is much more accurate than current technology allows. It will give us a much greater understanding and visibility of what is happening in some of the leakiest areas of Sheffield city centre, enabling us to respond better and in turn reduce disruption to our customers.”

Across Yorkshire, there are over 31,000km of mains network that deliver over one billion litres of water everyday to homes and business across the region.

The work forms part of a wider multi-million pound package announced last week by Yorkshire Water that will create 300 new jobs to help the firm become a top performer in the water sector.

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